It has been suggested for some time that circadian rhythm abnormalities underlie the development of multiple psychiatric disorders. However, it is unclear how disruptions in individual circadian genes might regulate mood and anxiety. Here we found that mice lacking functional mPeriod 1 (mPer1) or mPeriod 2 (mPer2) individually did not have consistent behavioral abnormalities in measures of anxiety-related behavior. However, mice deficient in both mPer1 and mPer2 had an increase in levels of anxiety-like behavior in multiple measures. Moreover, we found that mPer1 and mPer2 expression was reduced in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) after exposure to chronic social defeat stress, a paradigm that led to increased anxiety-related behavior. Following social defeat, chronic treatment with fluoxetine normalized Per gene expression towards wild-type levels. Knockdown of both mPer1 and mPer2 expression via RNA interference specifically in the NAc led to a similar increase in anxiety-like behavior as seen in the mutant animals. Taken together, these results implicate the Per genes in the NAc in response to stress and the development of anxiety.
© 2012 Federation of European Neuroscience Societies and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.